St. Ursus Cathedral is considered the most significant Swiss building from the early neoclassical period, and was constructed using light-coloured Solothurn marble. The cathedral is also full of Solothurn’s magic number 11: three sets of 11 imposing steps lead up to the cathedral; inside, the cathedral has 11 altars; and the tower is 66 m tall (6 x 11) and has 11 bells. The third complete reconstruction of the cathedral took place from 1762 to 1773 according to a design by Gaetano Matteo Pisoni from Ascona – lasting exactly 11 years. Pisoni’s nephew, Paolo Antonio Pisoni, managed the later years of the construction. Eleven bells from the Kaiser foundry in Solothurn (1764–1768) hang behind large acoustic openings. The high altar by Carlo Luca Pozzi echoes the form of a sarcophagus. The cathedral treasure is stored on the ground floor of the tower.
The treasury contains a large number of artistically outstanding gold and silversmith's works. These are late medieval, Gothic and above all Baroque instruments such as chalices, monstrances and reliquaries; among them are exhibits by famous Augsburg masters; chalice and monstrance by Johannes Jakob Läublin (Schaffhausen); chalice by Hans Peter Staffelbach (Sursee); Chutzechännli by Johann Georg Wirz (Solothurn); globe reliquary by Anton Byss (Solothurn). The large arca with the two head relics of Ursus and Victor is the most important reliquary in the cathedral. Many of these ecclesiastical utensils still adorn the high altar on liturgically important feast days.
In the parament room, paraments from five centuries are kept in wide drawers. They are magnificent, multi-piece vestments with chasubles, dalmatics, chalice vellums, burses, stoles and manipulums, which were donated by important personalities of the city. In addition, richly decorated heiltum tablets are presented. Gaetano Mateo Pisoni, the builder of the cathedral, is portrayed in context, along with written documents from the period.
The 11 churches and chapels of Solothurn are well worth a visit. The impressive St. Ursus Cathedral is a significant landmark. The Jesuit Church is thought to be one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in Switzerland, and St. Peter’s Chapel features post-gothic design with lancet windows and a chancel closed on three sides.
Book a guided tour now to find out about the city’s churches.
St. Ursus Cathedral can be hired for services from the Roman Catholic Church.
Good to know
- St. Ursus Cathedral cannot be visited during services.
- St. Ursus Tower can be visited from 1 April to 31 October.